“Santa Claus, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, Native Americans, Detective Andy Sipowicz of the television show NYPD Blue and evil Teddy Bears all play a role in this year’s awards,” says Robert O’Neil, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. According to O’Neil, the recipients of the 2007 Jefferson Muzzle are the most eclectic in the program’s 16-year history.

The annual “awards” single out those who have blatantly disregarded the First Amendment, reminding violators of Thomas Jefferson’s warning that freedom of speech “cannot be limited without being lost.”

The Bush administration’s attempt to limit or censor reports from government scientists not in line with its political policies is the highest-profile transgression to make the Muzzle list, but O’Neil notes that a survey of Jefferson Muzzle recipients through the years shows that “threats to free expression come from all over the political spectrum and are not the by-product of a particular outlook or ideology. The presidential administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, former attorneys general John Ashcroft and Janet Reno, and both the Republican and Democratic national parties are among those who can claim the dubious honor of receiving a Muzzle.”

For a complete list of this year’s Muzzle recipients, visit tjcenter.org.